It was not until his portrayal of Mr Darcy in the 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that his performances received more widespread attention. This led to roles in more prominent films, such as The English Patient, and Bridget Jones's Diary, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Award, Shakespeare in Love, Conspiracy with Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci, The Importance of Being Earnest, again with Judi Dench and Richard Curtis's Love Actually.
In 2009, Firth received international critical acclaim for his performance in A Single Man, for which he gained the BAFTA Award and an Academy Award nomination. He subsequently appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, in the 2014 film Kingsman.
In 2018, he co-starred in the musical fantasy Mary Poppins Returns and the following year he appeared in the war film 1917.